Google aims to improve city life with technology

Google has launched a new project that aims to change city living for the better through the use of technology.

The company’s chief executive, Larry Page, said on Google+ that a newly established urban innovation company called Sidewalk Labs will develop and incubate urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage.

Ultimately, the aim is to improve city life for residents, businesses and governments.

As Sidewalk Labs explained, new technologies are already transforming commerce, media and access to information. But the company said that while there are apps to tell people about traffic conditions, or the prices of available apartments, the biggest challenges facing cities — such as making transportation more efficient and lowering the cost of living, reducing energy usage and helping government operate more efficiently — have so far proved harder to address.

As more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless, Page said.

However, improving city life is not just about hi-tech solutions, according to a recent report from Nesta, the UK innovation charity, which says that the key to the success of smart city projects depends on focusing on the citizens living in them, not just technology.

‘Rethinking Smart Cities From The Ground Up’ argues that successful smart cities of the future will combine the best aspects of technology infrastructure while making the most of the growing potential of ‘collaborative technologies’. This means technologies that enable greater collaboration between urban communities and between citizens and city governments.

Nesta showcases 10 examples of people-centred smart city initiatives on its website.

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